Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Life in the Balance

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

God spoke to Moses, saying, "Send men to scout the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelite people... "(Numbers 13:1-2)

It certainly wasn't a cyber attack when God instructed Moses to send in scouts to see the land of Israel but it certainly was spying. Since Biblical times countries have spied on each other.  The only question is what do they do with the information.  Since before the cold war we have been embroiled in a spy game that has sought military dominance and nothing has changed. Both the Former Soviet Union and the United States of America believe themselves to be the greatest superpowers.

The opposite is true of the spies sent into the land of Israel. They felt like grasshoppers in the face of giants.  Even though God tells them they will be victorious, they cannot imagine it is true.  No matter how many miracles God has already shown them, they cannot believe this one will happen.    

The message is simple. An over inflated sense of self can bring on war. And underappreciated sense of self will limit our achievements. Finding the balance is a life long journey.



Healing Takes Time

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Friday, June 9, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

There was Miriam stricken with snow white scales! (Numbers 12:10) Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, "O God, pray heal her.: (12:13)

As some may realize, I have been under the weather for the past two weeks.  I have been struggling with a virus that simply will not let go. It is nothing serious, though it has impacted my daily activities in a significant way.  Two thoughts have replayed as I lay in bed, thoughts I am confident come to the mind of anyone who has ever been sick. 

First, will I ever get better?  The doctors told me that it would take 7-10 days to run its course.  However, at day two that seemed like an eternity and at day 13 was clearly incorrect. Though I get better every day, there is the fear of relapse.

Second, I wanted to be left alone and I hated the isolation.  I am person who thrives on interaction with others. I draw my energy from others and being stuck in bed was at times lonely.

These are great lessons to carry with us when those we love are sidelined by illness.  It is with those sensitivities we need to approach those who suffer, while we listen carefully to what they articulate as their needs.



Names and Numbers

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

The Levites, however, were not recorded among them by their ancestral tribe. (Leviticus 1:47)

The desire to be famous is something that has taken our society by force in ways other generations never dreamed possible. Because of the explosion of social media, people, in the hopes of gaining noticed, share aspects of their lives that were previously considered private.  The genre of reality television puts people in the spotlight; social media expands the definition of 15 minutes of fame to 15 gigabytes of greatness.

In this week's portion, we have a list of the heads of tribes followed by the number of people in each tribe.  The message is clear.  There must be leaders and there must be followers.  Each tribe has its purpose and members of each tribe have their roles.  The goal of this accounting is to assemble a lethal fighting force. As John Smith wrote in The History of Israel, Moses formed a tribal league with unprecedented military prowess.  It was this structure that successfully sustained our people as they wandered through the desert. We survived because each person understood their role irrespective of the notoriety they achieved.  Some were leaders and some were followers. All contributed to our survival.